Things got testy Wednesday at the GE shareholders meeting courtesy of several complaints about political bias at its media division, NBC Universal.
Just don’t expect to see the fireworks at the company’s webcast of the event, which contains prepared remarks from CEO Jeff Immelt and CFO Keith Sherin but leaves out their interaction with shareholders.
A GE spokesman clarified that the corporation doesn’t typically broadcast the shareholders meeting in its entirety.
Just before GE board members were re-elected, shareholders asked about 10 questions of a mostly political nature concerning the viewpoints of MSNBC and CNBC, according to attendees.
First up was a woman asking about a reported meeting in which Immelt and NBC Uni CEO Jeff Zucker supposedly told top CNBC executives and talent to be less critical of President Obama and his policies.
Immelt acknowledged a meeting took place but said no one at CNBC was told what to say or not say about politics.
During the woman’s follow-up question, her microphone was cut off. Later, during the umpteenth question about MSNBC, another shareholder’s microphone was cut, according to multiple attendees.
“The crowd was very upset with MSNBC because of its leftward tilt,” one attendee said. “Some former employees said they were embarrassed by it.”
One specific complaint about MSNBC concerned Keith Olbermann’s interview of actress Janeane Garofalo, who likened conservatives to racists and spoke of “the limbic brain inside a right-winger.”
“They were upset that Olbermann didn’t bother to challenge her,” one GE shareholder said.
Immelt said he takes a hands-off approach to what is reported on the company’s news networks, which prompted a shareholder to criticize him for not managing NBC Uni effectively.
“My biggest surprise was the open hostility to MSNBC,” another shareholder said. “It was noticeable and loud. I don’t remember any of this going on last year.”
Just ask MSNBC President Phil Griffin: there is no bias at MSNBC, and when he says that there is none, he does mean that there is a certain amount.
(Though cannibalism is right out. For now.)
Related: Ace asks:
Oh… And how is MSNBC’s liberal lineup faring in the ratings?”
More at Hot Air.
Update: Found via Moe Lane, Little Miss Atilla presents her take on the Olbermann-Garofalo train wreck straight, no chaser. Or maybe on the rocks with a twist. And just a hint of Noilly Prat. But in any case, plenty of booze metaphors are involved, so don’t miss it.
Unless you’re already binge drinking for Darfur, of course.